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The Chicago Cubs’ depth continues to be tested.
This time it was right-hander Kohl Stewart who got to show what he can do. Needing a starter for Monday’s series opener against the San Diego Padres, the Cubs promoted the 26-year-old from Triple-A Iowa.
Stewart gave the Cubs exactly what they needed, allowing one unearned run over five innings in a 7-2 win. Javier Báez and Patrick Wisdom each hit two home runs, while Kris Bryant connected for a triple and a two-run homer to power the Cubs offense. The Cubs have won nine of their last 11 games.
Stewart’s start was his first in the majors since May 11, 2019, with the Minnesota Twins. A Báez throwing error to open the second aided the Padres in scoring their lone run off Stewart. Fernando Tatís Jr., who later homered off right-hander Keegan Thompson, advanced to second on the miscue. Wil Myers’ single drove him home to give the Padres a 1-0 lead.
The Padres threatened to tack on to their lead in the second, putting runners on the corners with Jurickson Profar’s single, but Stewart got Victor Caratini to hit into an inning-ending double play. Stewart relied on contact and ground balls to navigate his outing. He allowed only three hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out two in five innings.
Stewart replaced right-hander Trevor Williams, who went on the injured list Monday after an appendectomy. The Cubs should have a better idea of how long Williams will be sidelined after his follow-up appointment Tuesday. Williams is the 12th Cub on the IL.
Stewart signed a free-agent deal with the Cubs in the offseason. He has appeared in 17 big-league games, including six starts, all with the Twins in 2018 and 2019. Stewart was the choice to start Monday because he is adequately stretched out and could help avoid taxing the bullpen. He has pitched at least five innings in each of his four starts with Iowa this season.
“It made a lot of sense. He’s been pitching pretty good down there from what I heard,” Cubs manager David Ross said before the game. “I did not check those numbers, but I think a starter that’s stretched out and can give us multiple innings made the most sense for where we’re at.”
Anthony Rizzo (back) was not in the lineup for a sixth consecutive game. He fielded ground balls pregame and took batting practice, which included launching a couple of home runs to the bleachers. Ross hopes Rizzo can be back in the lineup Tuesday but wouldn’t commit to that.
Jason Heyward (hamstring) and Jake Marisnick (hamstring) also participated in BP. Heyward tested his hamstring running the bases before the game, while Marisnick did agility work in the outfield.
Ross said Heyward and Marisnick appear to be extremely close to returning.
“We’re on the verge of getting some guys healthy, which is the good news on the back end of some bad news,” Ross said.